By: Hans Themistode
Errol Spence Jr. has made the long, lonely trek to the ring a total of 27 times as a professional. Once he walks through the raucous crowd and prior to the Dallas native swapping fists with his opponents, he waits patiently as his credentials are introduced by the ring announcer.
Normally, even before said announcer acknowledges Spence Jr. as a unified world champion, his 2012 Olympic achievements will be named first. Although the newly turned 32-year-old failed to medal during the summer games, making an Olympic roster is a rare feat.
Be that as it may, Ismael Salas, head trainer of Yordenis Ugas, isn’t impressed with Spence Jr.’s amateur accomplishments. As Salas continues to prepare Ugas for his upcoming unification clash against Spence Jr. on April 16th at AT&T Stadium, he believes the accentuation of the unified champion’s amateur background should come to an end, especially when juxtaposed with the accomplishments of Ugas.
“Did Spence go to the Olympics? Yes,” said Salas to a group of reporters. “What he did? Nothing. Ugas went to the Olympics? Yes. What did Ugas do? Bronze medal. Ugas was Pan American Game Champion, Amateur world champion. Was Spence? No.”
In totality, Salas is only partially correct. While he’s accurate in saying that Ugas was a Pan American champion and won an Olympic bronze medal, doing so in the 2008 games, the amateur credentials of Spence Jr. are being slightly downplayed. Altogether, Spence Jr. was a three-time U.S. National Champion. He was also a Golden Glove winner in 2009.
In addition to his amateur success, Spence Jr. also received a late start in the sport of boxing. Officially, the current pound-for-pound star picked up his first pair of gloves at the age of 15. Ugas, on the other hand, began his boxing journey at the age of six.
Still, despite the age discrepancy, both Ugas and Spence Jr. have nearly identical amateur records. Ugas wrapped up his time in the unpaid ranks with a record of 122-12, while Spence Jr.’s time as an amateur came to an end after amassing a record of 135-12.
Ultimately, Salas isn’t depending on what Ugas accomplished in his younger days to pick up the victory come April 16th. Having fought and defeated some of the best fighters that the welterweight division has to offer, including the likes of Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and Kell Brook – Salas admits that the amateur career of Ugas will be of little importance come fight night.
“This guy is solid,” said Salas of Spence Jr. “There’s nothing to take away from him. Professional and amateur is not the same.”
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